The AABANY Trial Reenactment Team, led by Hon. Denny Chin and Kathy Hirata Chin, is proud to once again present Vietnamese Fishermen’s Association v. Knights of the Ku Klux Klan at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP on May 11, 2016. First performed during the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) National Convention on November 7, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Vietnamese Fishermen features many returning cast members, excited to bring the drama of recent history back to life.

Set in the aftermath of the Fall of the Saigon in 1975, when Vietnamese immigrants arrived in the Gulf Coast and became fishermen, Vietnamese Fishermen recounts the experience of Vietnamese immigrants as targets of terrorizing tactics from the Ku Klux Klan designed to drive them out. Vietnamese immigrants brought their fishing skills to the Gulf coast, and while the number of boats on the water increased, the shrimp crop generally stayed the same. 

The KKK directed violence towards not only the Vietnamese Fishermen, but also those who did business with them. The Vietnamese fishermen fought back with a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against these actions, invoking not only civil rights statutes and the U.S. Constitution, but also the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Vietnamese Fishermen is the ninth Trial Reenactment led by Hon. Denny Chin and Kathy Hirata Chin, touching on familiar themes of discrimination and civil rights. Unlike previous reenactments performed by our team, this case also features depositions as well as the trial proceedings, filled with weapons and accusations that plaintiff’s counsel Morris Dees is the Jewish anti-Christ. In one deposition, Louis Beam, the Grand Dragon of the Texas Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, appears in his Klan robes as an intimidation tactic. Played in depositions by Ona Wang, Morris Dees states:

Let the record show that this witness has a weapon under his Klan robe. He’s in here in full regalia Klan robe, and obviously he has a shoulder holster with a weapon sticking out under it. I want the record to show it, unless his counsel refutes it, and he says he refuses to admit it.

We wish Andy Hahn, who is returning to play the part of Louis Beam, the best of luck in portraying the hatred of the Klan member as justice is brought down. David Berg, another plaintiff’s counsel, joked:

Beam’s facing his worst nightmare: a black judge and a Jewish lawyer.

This was, of course, in response to the multiple threats that he also received during the course of events. Terrorism and fear tactics pervade the entire story. As stated by Kathy Chin, “litigators are all closet actors,” so thank you for joining us as we relive and retell the story for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Check out the rehearsal photos from Francis Chin above.